Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez whose
government is spearheading the push to unite Latin American nations
to counter US domination, is being specifically targeted.
"The region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept
the vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively
support democratic leaders," US President George Bush stated on March 12. Bush said his government was studying whether or not Venezuela should be added to its list of countries that "sponsor terrorism."
In Washington’s Orwellian world view — where war is peace and
elected leaders are dictators — his comments were aimed at
Venezuela’s democratically-elected government that is offering its
services to assist with a negotiated peaceful solution to Colombia’s
more than four decade-long civil war.
Venezuela’s representative in the Organization of American States
(OAS), Jorge Valero, hit back that same day, calling the US
government "the terrorist government par excellence."
Valero argued it was "an absolutely stupid thing to say from the
government of Mr Bush . . . that practices state terrorism, that has
invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law,
that commits genocidal practices in various parts of the world, that
has invaded Latin American and Caribbean countries. . . ."
Having viewed Latin America as its own backyard for decades,
Washington is becoming increasingly concerned about developments
south of its border. Its biggest headache is Venezuela, whose
government has been making important headway in bringing together
governments of Latin America, as well as undermining capitalism
Washington has waged a constant public campaign (similar to its
campaign against Iraq before the invasion) attempting to link
Venezuela with narco-trafficking, terrorism, promotion of an arms
race, money laundering, and threats to regional security.
US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger argued on the Venezuelan TV show La Hojilla that this campaign is aimed at containing Chavez’s influence
and undermining Latin American integration — a process aided by the
election of a number of governments that, to varying degrees, have
proven willing to exercise independence from Washington and pursue
closer regional collaboration.
For Dario Azzellini, author of several books about US military
intervention into the region, Colombia’s illegal cross-border attack
(publicly supported by the US government, which funds and arms the
Colombian military) was the first step in carrying out more serious
military infractions across its border in order to provoke a response
from Venezuela and lay the blame for the subsequent conflict at their
"Their aim is to create massive destabilization in a region where
Colombia would play a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle
East," Azzellini told Green Left Weekly.
"The Colombian government said that they had the coordinates of Reyes whereabouts for month, during which we can suppose that he moved between Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory as part of the current negotiations by the FARC in releasing prisoners. So the question is why did they choose to carry it out in Ecuador?
"It was a test, they wanted to do it in Ecuadorian territory and not
in Venezuela to see what the international reaction would be."
Luis Bilbao, director of Latin American magazine America XXI, told
GLW US imperialism had two aims in mind with Colombia’s attack (which
was clearly coordinated with the US) — put a halt to the hopes for
humanitarian accord with the FARC, who only days before had released
four prisoners unilaterally, and sabotage the growing South American
Finding a political solution to Colombia’s current conflict is a
danger to Washington, which has used it as justification to build up
their military presence in Colombia. This is why the issue of peace
in Colombia is so closely intertwined with the process of Latin
Colombia’s attack came just days before global protests in favor of a
peaceful solution to Colombia’s civil war and against state and
paramilitary violence, which targets political activists, with more
trade unionists killed in Colombia every year than any other
country. On March 6, hundreds of thousands marched across Colombia,
defying threats of reprisals from paramilitaries.
Associated Press reported on March 14 that six organizers of the
march had been murdered, and two dozen more received death threats
from the Black Eagles death squad.
Moreover, Bilbao pointed out that, in the immediate aftermath of this
event, it seemed unthinkable that the meeting of the South American
Community of Nations (Unasur, formed in April 2002 with the aim of
creating a European Union-style body across South America) that had
been scheduled to take place in Colombia at the end of the month
could have gone ahead.
Such a turn of events would suit Washington, as the development of
Unasur threatens the ability of the US to exert its control over the
region on behalf of US corporate interests.
Bilbao argued that the action was nonetheless a big mistake on the
part of Colombia. Bilbao argued that "they didn’t attack Venezuela,"
as Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro had stated Venezuela
expected, "because of the firm stance that Venezuela has taken and
instead attacked Ecuador expecting a timid response . . . setting a
precedent for further repeat actions in Ecuador and to extend this to
However the firm stance by both Ecuador and Venezuela — both of
whose governments broke diplomatic ties and moved troops to their
Colombian borders — put Colombia on the back foot.
In fact, rather than reverse the trend towards integration, the
response to Colombia’s attack could mark an important regional
realignment — assisting the process of regional integration.
The most significant event was the summit of the Group of Rio held on
March 6 and 7. Televised live across the whole continent,
representatives of all Latin American governments debated the issue
without the presence of the US government.
After a fiery debate, the meeting came to a unanimous decision to
reject the actions of the Colombian government and any further
violation of the sovereignty of another country. Crucially, the vote
was a rejection of the doctrine of "preventive war" that the US has
pushed since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Ecuador and Venezuela are pushing for the March 17 meeting of the OAS (of which the US is a member) to ratify the Group of Rio’s motion.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has stated bluntly that, if the
OAS meeting did not condemn the aggression, it should be thrown "in
the dustbin of history."
Arguing that it would be "difficult for the US government to oppose
such a resolution," Valero asserted that "I don’t believe the United
States has sufficient strength to crush the will of the Rio Group